Indycar teams feel the pinch

The American Le Mans Series kicks off with the Sebring 12 Hours in mid-March when Audi will race its new R15 in its only US appearance of 2009. Acura’s new turbo V8 P1 car will debut at Sebring, with Gil de Ferran and Duncan Dayton’s Highcroft Racing team each running a single car. Last year’s Sebring winners Penske and Porsche have left for Grand-Am (see above), but ALMS stalwart Rob Dyson, who ran a pair of Porsches in ’08, will race two new Lola-turbo Mazdas this year. Adrian Fernández’s team continues with Acura’s lone P2 entry.

The IRL IndyCar season starts in the streets of St Petersburg, Florida at the end of March in a twin-bill with the ALMS. Both series will also run together at Long Beach in April. Dario Franchitti joins defending IRL champion Scott Dixon in Chip Ganassi’s team, and this pair will be hard to beat in ’09. Australian Will Power has replaced the beleaguered Hélio Castroneves at Penske beside Ryan Briscoe, which is bad news for Briton Justin Wilson. He was hoping to join Penske after his ’08 team Newman/Haas/Lanigan fell short of sponsorship – the team will run just one car this year for Graham Rahal (above). A lack of sponsors also forced Graham’s dad Bobby to suspend his Rahal-Letterman team.